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The Fifteenth Air Force

The Fifteenth Air Force was activated on November 1, 1943 with headquarters at Tunis, Tunisia. Maj. Gen. James H. Doolittle was the first Commanding General. Headquarters was moved to Bari, Italy on December 1, 1943 and remained there throughout the war. Maj. Gen Nathan F. Twinning succeeded Doolittle as Commanding General on January 3, 1944.

The Fifteenth Air Force received six heavy bomb groups (four B-17, two B-24), three P-38 fighter groups, and one P-47 fighter group transferred from the Twelfth Air Force. Other groups intended for duty with the Eighth Air Force were diverted to build the strength of the Fifteenth. The 449th Bomb Group and 450th Bomb Group were the first two new heavy bomb groups assigned to the new Fifteenth Air Force.

By late spring of 1944, the Fifteenth Air Force had grown to its authorized strength of 21 heavy bomb groups and seven fighter groups. The 21 bomb groups were organized into five bomb wings, each wing with 3 to 5 bomb groups.